Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Flat New Year

The Chief Circle and his ministers are getting agitated; as from midnight the Ruritanians and Vulgarians will be completely at liberty to immigrate and take advantage of Flatland's relatively-generous social service benefit system. Various ministers have been charged with finding cop-outs in order to discourage an anticipated influx of benefit-seekers, thimbleriggers and assorted human detritus. Meanwhile, for impenetrable reasons of its own, the nation of Flatvia is to adopt the bizarre currency of the League of Medland Nations (LMN).

Flatland's Supreme Court recently came out with an unwelcome judgement: two Flatologists were permitted to solemnise their union in the Flatland headquarters of this controversial organisation. Those in the know confidently predict an imminent application for charitable status that would allow the Flatologist organisation to reduce its rate bill by 80%.

Economic news has been fairly favourable, and the Flatbit has appreciated somewhat against the FlatUS Dollar. The stock exchanges of FlatUS and Flatland have both enjoyed strong runs during 2013, assisted by their respective central banks. This has not translated into joy amongst High Street retailers, and the leading chain store Flatenhams has issued a profits warning. Its shares now trade at only some 35% of the price at which it was refloated a few years ago, after spending a short but profitable period in the tender, caring arms of public-spirited venture capitalists. Who would have imagined during that IPO process that the public was being offered a pup?

With the turn of the year, the LMN acquires a new presidency - none other than Hellenland, the country that in recent years has had such difficulty in meeting its debt commitments. Some jokes write themselves.

The Chief Circle has commanded me to send fraternal greetings to all readers, and best wishes for 2014.

Senator Chromatistes

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Last Syllable of Recorded Time

Strange things are afoot in our beloved nation: our historical records, including those ancient scrolls rediscovered only last week (see previous posting) have vanished without trace. Official history now starts with the epoch of the Great Coalition Victory over the Powers of Darkness. All Flatland's citizens aged four or above are confused, since their birth records are now missing, and they appear to have been called into existence by some mystic force, possibly parthenogenesis.

However, the Chief Circle is exceedingly pleased with this turn of events, since no vestigial trace remains other than that of the Dear Leader and his beloved retinue of hangers-on, satraps and fellow-travellers.

Dire reports have been received regarding the Flatland cricket team, who are touring a very distant land. They have apparently suffered three consecutive drubbings, and the Dear Leader may have to issue another edict in order to purge this calamity from the national records.

Transport to and from our capital Flat City has been problematical for as long as anybody can remember - three and a half years at least! Our Senate has commissioned a report on extending sliding facilities at Flatrow or Flatwick. Both options are controversial with the locals, and the Mayor of Flat City, a jolly mop-topped buffoon, advocates a fresh facility in the remote marshes in the benighted Eastern regions.

President Input has been busily persuading the Flatkranians not to dally with the League of Medland Nations (LMN). In reality, most of the existing LMN members are heartily sick of expansion, which has resulted in all sorts of questionable characters traipsing around their respective nations, claiming overgenerous benefits and generally upsetting the indigenous voters, who are of a blinkered disposition - many of them being Daily FlatGraph readers. More trouble is brewing within the LMN financial sector; the Great Angela has finally been reconfirmed in her post, and will now proceed to expose more of the moribund banks and credit institutions that litter the LMN. This will be an ugly procedure, resulting in the demise of several supposedly 'Too-Big-To-Fail' banks, and the impoverishment of many innocent depositors. Our Dear Leader will no doubt ensure that the Royal Bank of Flatland is not one of that number.

Senator Chromatistes

Friday, December 13, 2013

Poles Apart

The North* Pole belongs to Flatland - this is an undeniable geographical and historical fact, amply evidenced by the continental shelf that connects it to our great democratic nation. In order to reinforce this, the Chief Circle has declared a No-Slide Zone, whereby any commercial transport from another nation is required to identify itself and request permission to slide across the zone. These permissions are readily granted in return for an appropriate quantity of FlatCoins, electronically transferred to a discreet offshore account.

*So also do the South, East and West poles, according to very ancient scrolls recently rediscovered and now on public view in the Flatland National Museum (Platinum sponsors: Hewlett Flatard). How amazingly advanced our ancestors were to write on parchments of exact A4 size!

Elsewhere, a Great Man has died. A Circle amongst Circles, his extended funeral arrangements have attracted the usual suspects of tired, worn-out and downright dodgy politicos seeking to improve their public standing by association with the Great Man. Some of these attendees attempted to amuse themselves by taking 'selfies', though their efforts clearly backfired. The President of FlatUS took a snap that showed three straight lines of differing colour, representing himself and two lesser dignitaries. His needle-sharp wife was not at all amused. A not-so-great man has also died; the Chief Circle had him executed for clapping only half-heartedly at the last Party Congress. You really cannot be too careful these days. House prices in Flatland have been rising strongly, and the Governor of the Bank of Flatland (an import from Mooseland) has suggested that measures need to be taken to moderate the housing market. This viewpoint does not gel at all with members of the ruling Coalition, who will be seeking re-election within eighteen months. The standard Flatland house design is shown here:

Meanwhile, a scion of our Royal Family has reached the South Pole, 102 years late. Many of Flatland's intelligentsia are wondering whether, in deference to history, he will perish on the return journey.

Saturday, October 05, 2013


The once-mighty nation of Eagleland, also known as FlatUS, has joined the lengthening roster of lands that have run out of money. Its president has been forced to send home almost all* its government workers, blaming his political opponents for the debacle. As usual, he is talking a load of hot air out of his backside, as befits the President of Flatus. *An exception to this policy of stringency is made in respect of the personal entourage of the President's pneumatic wife, which exceeds in number the entire governmental administration of Eagleland's first president. Such is the nature of governmental sprawl over a two century period. The underlying reason for this crisis is the highly-contentious introduction of FlatusCare, whereby every medical basket case is allowed to take out health insurance at a flat(!) premium rate, as if he or she were the fittest citizen alive. Even the dumbest actuary sees the flaw in this piece of political posturing, so premium rates have rocketed, whilst the healthy citizens of Eagleland, who are paying for this electoral boondoggle, are furious with the Flatocrat Party for driving this divisive policy into law. Here in Flatland, the Chief Circle has decided to sell off FlatMail to the unsuspecting public. FlatMail was formerly an iconic public service that over time became a liability, until Flatland's Chancellor swiped its pension scheme's assets, declaring that FlatMail's pensioners would instead be funded by the unborn. A neat political piece of legerdemain, equivalent to a game of Three Card Monte. Until a way is found to facilitate postal voting in utero, this scheme appears totally watertight. The League of Medland Nations (LMN) continues to stagger from crisis to crisis. Things have been a little quiet of late, whilst the LMN's most-powerful constituent nation forms a new coalition government. Once the parlaying of power is over, attention will rapidly return to The Usual Suspects of financially incontinent countries. The concept of people paying their own way through life is deeply alien to a large proportion of countries, so ways have been devised to distract their populaces from realising how precariously placed the financial system is. Within Flatland a highly-popular seasonal distraction involves getting C-listed 'celebrities' to cavort on dance floors, involving extravagant displays of cleavage and other feminine flesh. Predictably, this garners a strong following amongst males of the Triangle and even Square classes, whilst their respective womenfolk dream idly of wearing the outrageous frilly confections that serve as contestants' dresses. This programme, alongside similar elimination contests, proceeds with excruciating slowness towards a pre-Christmas orgasm of finals. It will be interesting to observe how the number of LMN banks is also winnowed, as one-by-one they fail to satisfy the arcane capital requirements of the LMN regulators.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Royal Circles

The Democratic People's Republic of Flatland has a new prince. (Readers who believe the co-existence of a royal family and a republic to be an impossibility are referred to the penultimate posting from our beloved nation.) Naturally the child is perfectly circular, and is likely to be named Eggfrith Louis Crosscheck-Doors James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree or some such nonsensical confection. The Chief Circle will be mightily pleased to have this distraction, which might head off any hot-weather rioting by members of the Triangular classes. Flatland's idiot heir to the throne - grandfather to the newborn - will probably sing Ying Tong Iddle I Po. A 41-gun salute tomorrow will involve the firing of lead circles into empty space, indicating to the world what a vibrant up-to-date nation The Democratic People's Republic of Flatland truly is.

As usual, Flatland's political parties are flat broke, willing to solicit donations from all kinds of undesirables in exchange for promises of future titles, largesse from the Publick Purse, and similar favours. The Blue, Yellow and Red factions are equally guilty of these practices. FlatKIP - a party that advocates breaking off relations with the League of Medland Nations would probably not be any better in this regard, but has yet to wield sufficient political power for this premise to be scientifically tested.

Run Rabbit, Run

It's hard being an Oryctolagus cuniculus. You are liable at any moment to be picked up by a top-hatted magician and produced in a surprising location for the amusement of the offspring of homo sapiens. The wise leaders of Eagleland have, however, legislated for the well-being of rabbits, such that a licence needs to be produced whenever demanded by the local jobsworth. This imposition is not as onerous as might be expected, since any half-competent conjurer is capable of producing ten such documents from his or her sleeve, and twenty from a Horn of Plenty that has been laboriously emptied immediately beforehand. Not content with requiring a Rabbit Licence, the Eagleland powers-that-be are now insisting that the hapless magician also have a fully-formed Rabbit Disaster Plan, to cover such contingencies as Hail, Frogs, Pestilence, Lice, Darkness and Death of the Firstborn. This further imposition has engendered much merriment amongst the blogospheres of Eagleland and Flatland. A kind lady has furnished such a document, running to great length. Even more practical is the advice of a fellow magician: TAKE RABBIT AND RUN.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Perimeter and other Problems

Our beloved realm, Flatland, is a treasured destination for travellers, though on occasions the natural hospitality of its citizens is strained by wild applications for political asylum from countries possessing more than two dimensions. The Chief Circle recently received a request from one Edward Snowden, currently located at the hitherto-unknown Sheremetyevo. Naturally he had to decline the request, since it would be impossible to squeeze the non-flat Mr Snowden through our entry portals. Furthermore, even his limited hand baggage would not be accepted aboard flatJet, which has just reduced the maximum carry-on dimensions to a pitifully-small rectangle. Any excess now requires an additional payment of frighteningly-large quantum. (Coins and notes issued by the League of Medland Nations are not accepted, for obvious reasons.) To our immediate south, the President of Vineland is skilfully steering the Ship of State unerringly towards the rocks. Expenditure is totally out of control, and before long either Vineland's creditors will be circling, or the local peasantry out in the boulevards setting fire to Flatland sheep or possibly stringing up a selection of local parliamentarians. Flatland's Finance Minister - a Heptagon of noted breeding - is seeking to unburden the state of its majority holding in the Royal Bank of Flatland. This was acquired during the darkest days of the finance crisis five years ago. Sadly, the RBF's Chief Executive was ousted a few weeks ago, since when its share price has tanked. No sane fund manager will touch RBF shares with a bargepole. News from Upside Down Land, where politics is exceptionally brutal, the Prime Minister has been knifed in the back by her predecessor. And in Pyramid Land there is much unrest; the army has issued an ultimatum to the various politicos to sort their differences, otherwise the generals will take control. All in all, Flatland is escaping lightly amid so much Circular discontent. The imminent birth of a royal babe should distract the Triangular classes from whatever grievances they are harbouring, and enable the Chief Circle to govern for a few more months. [Students of politics might be puzzled as to how the People's Democratic Republic of Flatland can maintain a Royal Family. It is, in reality, an intrinsic feature of all republics. Eagleland is burdened with at least three questionable dynasties: the Kennedy, Bush and Clinton clans.]

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cooped Up

Yet more bad news from the Flatland banking sector: the Chicken Bank has discovered that a load of its golden eggs are smashed, and can't even make an omelette out of them. It acquired them a few years ago as a job lot when it took over the Flatannia Building Society. The FCA (Flatland Chicken Authority) definitely has egg on its face, having only recently touted the Chicken Bank as a suitable purchaser of a clutch of high street bank branches. So, as usual, victims must be found, and the holders of subordinated bonds and Permanent Egg-Bearing Securities will be well and truly plucked. Executives sitting in the Chicken Coop will, of course, receive their customary large bonuses.

A new Governor of the Bank of Flatland has been recruited at great expense from Mooseland. His role, it appears, is to issue loads of banknotes when nobody is looking, so as to meet the government's burgeoning debts. Meanwhile, the Chief Circle is playing host to a group of eight nations, together with assorted hangers-on, liggers, bloodsuckers and general detritus. The meeting will, of course, be a load of hot air, whilst the attendees pose for contrived photo-ops. Even the Bilderbergers will appear more sincere than this assembly of Janus-faced satraps.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Circular Warming

(The messenger entrusted with carrying this despatch was unaccountably delayed by twelve weeks.) A semi-annual ritual has just taken place in Flatland - we have moved our clocks an hour forward to Flatland Summer Time (FST), so as to celebrate the passing of winter and the forthcoming summer. In reality, however, Flatland is perishingly cold, possibly on account of emanations from Northland, where President Input is prone to cutting off supplies of energy to any nations who criticise his kleptocratic regime. Our leading scientists are deeply puzzled by all this - for years they have been regaling Flatlanders with horror stories along the lines of:
The entirety of Flatland will heat up to such an extent that crops will fail, and the population starve to death.
Then they add more wood to their central heating boilers in order to stave off the cold. Something is not right, and a meeting of the Senate has been called to discuss what can be done. The issue of Circular Warming has polarised(!) our community. Some believe every syllable of wibble issuing from the scientists' mouths, whilst others mutter sotto voce that perhaps these selfsame boffins have been smoking exotic substances that induce hallucinations. Finance in Flatland remains in turmoil - a number of nations are much happier to borrow than to repay their creditors. A prominent example is Silverland, whose lady president Cristina Churchner clashes noisily with any judge (foreign or domestic) who rules against her crackpot state. Her most strident demand is for Flatland to cede a group of benighted islands, none of whose inhabitants wish to become Silverlanders. Clearly her support for the democratic process is selective, to say the least. With luck, she will have her leg bitten by a patriotic penguin, and forget about her absurd demand.

Warmly by the Throat

As so often, there is a spot of bother in Flatland. As is well known, female Flatlanders are basically needle-shaped. One of our more-prominent citizens - an Octagon, no less - was dining with his voluptuous wife, fondly admiring with his hands what he took to be her slender waist, when it transpired that he had been inadvertently throttling the good lady. She subsequently took off in a huff without even issuing the obligatory Peace Cry, and her location is currently unclear. Unfortunately some footage of the incident found its way to PC Plod, who insists upon playing and replaying the heaving of the lady's embonpoint, under the pretext of crime investigation.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Problems with Triangles

(A Square writes) You can never trust the Lower Orders. Turn your back on them for a moment and they're up to no good. The latest fad of theirs is baking triangular flapjacks and hurling them into meetings at which their betters (Squares, Pentagons and Higher Orders) are discoursing on the finer points of Philosophy. Whilst one can see the class symbolism of such acts, even the humblest scalene Triangle ought to be aware of the danger of such reckless behaviour. Only today the Daily Flatgraph reported that a local school has banned the cooking of such angular shapes, mandating instead more regular forms such as an Octagon (the High Master is an Octagon). Meanwhile, our finest minds have come up with a wizard way of escaping from the banking crisis that continues to plague our nation. We have closed our banks for over a week, and now we will shutter the Flatland Popular Bank, and move all its small depositors to the Popular Bank of Flatland. The remaining depositors, who are overwhelmingly citizens of Northland, and do not possess a vote in Flatland, will be well and truly skewered. If they are lucky, they might get a fancy coloured piece of paper purporting to be shares in the Flatland Popular Bank. However, since every customer will have deserted the bank, there will be no value in this scrip. President Input of Northland is speechless with rage, and is rumoured to be about to switch off the supply of gas (again) to the LMN (League of Medland Nations), who are complicit in all this thimblerigging. Can it be long before the speculators in the Flatland Stock Exchange tumble to what is going on, and start to panic sell?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Flatland Banking Crisis

Things are not good in Flatland. The Chief Circle has addressed the nation to inform its citizens that all its banks are bust. They had been imprudent enough to invest heavily in the government bonds of Lineland, whose King has since repudiated its debt. So the vaults are seriously depleted - well short of satisfying the claims of its depositors.

Several plans have been adumbrated, with a view to reducing the misery of the masses of Triangles, upon whose votes the Ruling Classes rely. A plan by which each Triangle depositor would lose 6.75% of his* savings was ruled out, and the latest proposal involves no losses to the Triangles, whilst the large number of Northland depositors will have their accounts frozen, and as likely as not will lose the majority of their money.

* Women in Flatland, naturally, are not permitted to own property or open bank accounts - this remains a bone of contention amongst a vocal minority, who refuse resolutely to utter the Peace Cry, and instead go on protest marches, chanting slogans and aligning their needle-shaped bodies in a phalanx formation, so as to injure or kill innocent males in the vicinity. They are, of course, misguided, and should be grateful to their menfolk for sparing them the opportunity to undergo a 'haircut'.

It goes without saying that the Hexagons and higher-order citizens spirited their money out of the Flatland banks some time ago. The Ambassador of Northland is far from pleased, and is demanding a naval base in Flatland, to the consternation of the other nations within the League of Medland Nations (LMN). This provides Flatlanders with their best bargaining chip; the New Worlders fear Northland expansionism, and might pony up some New World bullion in order to head off President Input of Northland and his Merry Men. This situation is getting increasingly ugly, and several LMN nations are fearful that they will suffer a similar fate.

The Hellenland citizens have been discovering painfully that prosperity does not arise from a culture of promising each other ever-increasing pensions, subsidies and handouts, and are reverting to growing real olives instead of inventing them in order to claim LMN cash. The Chief Circle is commanding my attendance, so more news on another occasion.